China B.O. robust despite quake

Tally up 26% for May compared with last year

BEIJING — China was in mourning for three days in May because of the huge loss of life in the Sichuan earthquake, but theatrical B.O. proved surprisingly robust in the period.

May B.O. was 253 million yuan ($37 million), which marks a rise of 26% on the previous year. The numbers of people watching movies in the theaters grew 27%, China Film Group said.

“May this year has left us sorrowful memories because of the Wenchuan earthquake. But the film market still gave us a good result,” China Film Group said on its website.

Growth rate is slightly lower than in the first quarter of the year. B.O. revenues were up 45% in the first three month to more than 1 billion yuan ($140 million), China Film Group said.

Some 32 million people went to the movies in the period, up 35%.

Released in mid-June, DreamWorks Animation’s “Kung Fu Panda” took in 97 million yuan ($14 million) during its first 10 days in China, the state-owned Xinhua News Agency said Tuesday.

” ‘Panda’ already is the most successful foreign animated film in China, and is expected to take $21.9 million,” Xinhua said.

Chinese biz is looking so healthy that ticket sales are on track for a record $722 million this year, China Film reported on its website. This compares with 2007’s total B.O. of $470 million.

Domestic movies accounted for more than 61% of the revenue. The biggest hit of the quarter was Stephen Chow’s sci-fi pic “CJ7,” which took in $29 million.

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